Market View (Fall 2019) – Ethics in Biotechnology: Just Because We Can …

  |   October 22, 2019

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Perhaps one of the most interesting discoveries in modern history was the structure of DNA. As we continue to study our genetic makeup, we are making fascinating discoveries about history, physiology, and disease. CRISPR (short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology is allowing us to make changes to the genetic structure of plants and animals. And as the technology improves, we can see potential benefits for humans, such as opening new and more avenues of disease treatment. For example, CRISPR might enable us to “turn off” cancer cells, or other genes critical in disease expression.

In agriculture, what used to take years of selective breeding to accomplish could be achieved in a fraction of the time. Crop yields could be increased and made more nutritious through the use of this technology. Another area of potential use would be to engineer the destruction of a so-called pest species to prevent disease transmission. Malaria has been one of the most pernicious and destructive diseases in the world, killing an estimated 435,000 people in 2017, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Africa and parts of Asia bear the overwhelming burden in terms of lost lives and lost productivity. What if, through the use of gene editing, we could destroy the mosquitoes that transmit the disease by making a whole generation of mosquitoes sterile? Would that not be a public good?

However, what if, through gene editing, we could begin to select certain traits for our children beyond just disease prevention? Designer babies with select traits is not that far away from trying to design a “superior human race.” As we have progressed in our technological abilities regarding gene editing, we will need to continue to have the discussion about when and how we use that technology.

Ethics in Wealth Management

A little closer to home have been recent news reports regarding Ken Fisher. Ken Fisher has been a longtime proponent of the fiduciary standard, but it is reported he made lewd and inappropriate comments at a conference regarding gaining a client’s trust. The comments are so egregious we will not dignify them by repeating them in our newsletter. However, we believe it necessary to address them because his comments can throw doubt upon our entire industry. We work hard to earn and maintain the trust of our clients and we repudiate and reject Ken Fisher’s characterization of the process of earning trust. We take the trust you have placed in us with the utmost seriousness and gravity and say that Ken Fisher does not speak for REDW Wealth.

Quarter in Review

Towards the end of the third quarter in 2019, global economic growth concerns weighed on the minds of many investors, particularly over the trade dispute between the US and China. Normally, economic growth and record low unemployment would spur companies to increase capital spending, but spending by businesses has not been as strong as anticipated, and therefore the equity markets were relatively flat. With interest rates generally falling, fixed income saw gains. REITs saw the greatest gains in the quarter and were one of the best performing asset classes for the year.

From a macro-economic perspective, we continue to see growth overall. Housing weakened in 2018, but has strengthened in 2019. Manufacturing has begun to weaken lately, but the consumer continues to remain strong. Incomes continue to grow, and unemployment remains near record lows. Wage growth has even begun to accelerate lately. Therefore, it is hard to see the conditions for a recession in the near future; but a slowdown is possible, especially if consumers pull back due to fear of a slowdown (a self-fulfilling prophecy). If the cross-currents in the data have you concerned or worried, then a call or meeting with your Relationship Manager is certainly warranted.


Copyright 2019 REDW Wealth, LLC. All Rights Reserved. This publication is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment, financial, tax, or legal advice.

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